Thank you so much! We do know of a local craniosacral therapist and we will definitely contact him should we feel the need. He’s helped a great number of moms and babies in town with various issues. Unfortunately, as you said, he’s a little pricey so seeing him will be something of a last resort if we baby get a handle on it all ourselves. Thanks for the suggestion and support!
Thank you!! Naturally, I couldn’t agree more. ;)
As much as I love the little boy I gave birth to, I have to be honest: I haven’t felt very connected to him. I know it’s not anything to feel guilty about, that it’s perfectly normal for the bonding process to take some time, that things like the somewhat difficult labor and birth, the first week of his life being fraught with jaundice stress and a hospitalization, the stresses we’ve experienced with breastfeeding, and the sheer exhaustion that comes with being a new parent probably have all contributed to my feelings of disconnect. I’ve felt so badly about it, though, and like I was a bad, ungrateful person for not instantly falling IN love with this precious little person we fought so hard to bring into this world.
Well, it hit me just now. Truly. I was sitting here with him, watching him fall asleep to songs I’m playing him on my laptop (including the song ‘Lullaby’ by The Dixie Chicks, who I am usually NOT a fan of, but that song is perfect) and the feeling of love just overcame me and I started bawling.
I am the luckiest mama in the world.
Ah, childbirth. Unmedicated childbirth of a posterior baby at that. It’s not for the faint of heart.
My water broke at exactly 2am on the morning of August 26th. It woke me up from a dead sleep and I was positive I was peeing the bed. I shot up and headed for the bathroom, leaving a trail of fluid along the way. I began to realize what was happening when I couldn’t stop the stream of liquid literally pouring out of me. I opened the door and just stood there, the bathroom rug getting saturated as I stood over it, and honestly felt nothing but confusion. “It’s too early!” kept going through my head. “I think your water broke, babe,’ my wife said knowingly. Once I accepted it, I started shaking and all I could say was, “I’m not ready!” I was feeling some mild, period-like cramps, but nothing else, so I cleaned up and my wife suggested we try our best to get some sleep and we’d call the midwife first thing in the morning.
I still wasn’t feeling contractions by 9:30am that morning, so the midwife on duty had us go into the birth center for a non-stress test. All was well, so she advised us to go back home and do everything we could to get contractions going - walk, shower, do nipple stimulation, etc. We did all that, but still, by 6pm when another midwife came on duty, no contractions. We called her for advice at 8pm. By then, it had been 18 hours since my water broke and the concern was hitting the 24 hour mark, at which the risk of infection goes up. She hinted that because of that timing, I’d likely end up at the hospital anyway, so she suggested we head there immediately so we could get things going ASAP. We reluctantly agreed and started packing overnight bags and started making phone calls to make sure our dogs would be taken care of.
Once checked into the hospital and in the room, I had a little crying meltdown about ending up there. But at least I still had a midwife. At about 10pm, she checked my cervix, which, let me tell you, was NOT pleasant, and was pleased to discover I was already 2cm and 80% effaced. She then applied the Misoprostal pill, which is a cervix softener, and said it could take anywhere from 2-5 hours to work, and even then, it may not and a second application would be necessary. My wife went and got us some food and we ate and tried to rest.
An hour later, contractions started. In earnest, without any warning or warm-up. We walked the halls, I sat on the birth ball, I got in the tub. None of those coping techniques lasted long because of how fast and hard the contractions were coming and how painful they were. I really just wanted to lay down, so got back in the bed. Honestly, thinking back, it’s all a huge blur now and I couldn’t reconstruct an accurate timeline if my life depended on it. But I remember the midwife checking my cervix twice more, the first resulting in discovering I was 5cm dilated and 100% effaced and the second time I’d gotten to 7cm. I remember being devastated that I wasn’t closer to 10cm at either check and howling in pain during them. The midwife was attending to another birth in the next room, so was in and out, but I remember begging and pleading my wife to make it all stop, that I’d do anything for her to make the pain go away, and sobbing that I couldn’t do this anymore. My wife was amazing and calm and such great support, but I remember getting so angry at her and the midwife both when instead of agreeing to make the pain stop, they just kept telling me how great I was doing. “I can’t do this anymore,” I said over and over and the midwife would always respond with “But you are doing it” and I wanted to hit her. I remember my wife and the nurse putting cold washcloths on my face and my wife holding up a fan to blow on me because I was SO hot and sweaty.
I remember when transition hit. And I thought the pain was bad before that. My wife said I was in that transitional labor for over an hour, at least. It seemed like a lifetime. Now, I’m a very quiet person and didn’t really expect to be very vocal during labor, but when the contractions got even worse, longer and more intense, the only way I could cope was to just wail through them. Everyone tried to get me up and out of the bed and moving a little, but I wouldn’t budge from my side-lying position on the bed. The pain was so mind-blowingly intense, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay upright. At one point, the urge to push at the end of each contraction got overwhelming and I’d grunt as I pushed. The nurse and my wife started to panic because the midwife was in the other room then and kept telling me to not push and to breathe through those urges. I remember the nurse commenting on how incredible my focus was, but thinking I was barely holding it together.
Finally, the midwife came in and said it was time to push. They put an oxygen mask on me at some point, too. After about 20-25 minutes of pushing getting nowhere, apparently his heart rate started to drop. Not drastically, but enough for the nurse to ask who the on-call doctor was, which unfortunately initiated hospital protocol. I don’t remember hearing her ask that or hearing anyone say anything about his heart rate. All I knew was that suddenly all the lights came on and a stream of people were now at the foot of the bed and looking at me. I was basically told, not asked, that they were going to use the vacuum to help get him out. I remember nodding and then they put the vacuum on, but it popped right off immediately. Next thing I knew, the doctor is in my face telling me she’s worried about my baby and thinks I need a c-section. I started to panic and looked to my wife, who was trying to catch the midwife’s eye. The midwife apparently isn’t allowed to contradict the doctor in front of the patient, but she silently communicated to my wife that she didn’t think a c-section was necessary. My wife leaned down and told me that, so I said no to the doctor. It was a terrifying moment when she then said to me, “So I’m to understand you’re refusing a c-section?” To which I said yes. So she, and the anesthesiologist they had right there in the room, ready to wheel me away, left. I remember thinking at that point, “Oh shit, now I really need to push this baby out.” A couple more nurses that had come in stayed and between them, the midwife, and my wife, I had the best cheerleading squad a girl could ask for and after another 30 minutes and through some pretty intense leg cramps, my sweet baby boy was born at 6:11am on 8/27. Posterior (face up), which surprised everyone and explained why he was having trouble coming out and why I was having such intense pain. And, for the record, his heart rate never dropped all that low or for very long. I’m so grateful for my midwife and her support and expertise and for helping ensure I didn’t have to have an unnecessary c-section.
So all in all, 7 hours of labor and an hour of pushing. Pretty fast for a first baby! I really had no concept of time and felt like I’d been there for hours upon hours, but I also remember being surprised to see the morning light peeking out under the drawn window shades. And it really is true what they say about forgetting the pain once the baby is born. Well, that’s not entirely true. It was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life, so it’s hard to forget it, but it’s all become a big blur at this point. During labor (and during that first week and a half, largely due to stitches for a 2nd degree tear), I wasn’t really sure I could or would ever want to do it again, but that moment they put your baby on your chest and you get to see him for the very first time? Yeah, that. That and seeing his precious little face every day since have made it all worth all the pain.
There’s a reason everyone says time flies because it really does. I feel like I JUST gave birth to this funny little dude and yet the calendar tells me it’s been over 2 weeks already. I mean, I feel so out of the time loop that I was surprised to look down at my arm the other day to see that the massive, dark bruise from a failed IV start while I was in the hospital is totally gone.
Things are going well, I’d say. He’s up to 8lbs, 2oz as of yesterday, so breastfeeding is clearly going well. Not that we don’t have our share of problems. Mostly, I have a forceful letdown which in an of itself isn’t all that big a deal and is actually fairly common, but Declan gets incredibly frustrated by it very quickly and his frustration turns into pure anger almost immediately and he doesn’t seem able to cope with that anger very well. It’s made for some Very Long nights, that’s for sure. I’ve been calling him my little rage monster. Yesterday, his pediatrician saw a glimpse of the behavior and called him “spirited”. Haha. But warned that babies with such “spirit” could become colicky. Dun dun dun. Not an exciting prospect, obviously, so we’ve been working on some techniques to keep him calm and hopefully can get to a place of less frustration (for all) soon.
I feel like I’m finally starting to physically heal in earnest now. I am still having a kind of pain that is very indicative of the presence of varicose veins in my vulva, which, let me tell you is SUPER not fun, though. My MIL said it’s possible the pain will get better as the swelling of my uterus and whatnot continues to go down, but that it may come back with every period. Great.
Declan continues to have the very best expressions ever, what with his furrowed brow and shifty eyes. He often looks like he’s taking in his surroundings and thinking something is very amiss, like there is a very old soul inside of him that was intending to be reincarnated into a different time and place and really needs to speak with someone about the mistake. His little face is already starting to change, we’ve noticed, and his hands, which were so wrinkly right after he was born, have smoothed out now. He’s already exhibiting some head control and is a noisy and active sleeper and nurser with lots of grunting, arm waving, and leg kicking. He looks at me a lot, studies me while he nurses, and his little eyes cross when he tries to focus on something.
I’m finding I’m feeling more disconnected from my wife than I’d like to be. We’re happily bed sharing with Declan, but it means we don’t get to cuddle up close like we used to, which I sorely miss. We spend our days together, of course, but given the demands of a newborn, we are often on separate sides of the living room, either both on our phones or laptops, her working, me nursing. Between the lack of sleep, the hormones, and other things causing me (unwarranted, for the most part, I do realize) insecurity, I find myself wishing we had more opportunity for alone time and the chance to reconnect, so to speak. And then feeling like an ungrateful parent for lamenting about how much time and attention my baby needs. I know it’ll all even out soon enough, so am trying hard to just enjoy everything. Which, really, isn’t hard most of the time. This little being is such a gift and I’m in such awe that he grew inside of me.